Fresh off a win in the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, the UW men’s rowing team will look to continue its winning ways Sunday on its home water.

The Husky men and women will host the Head of the Lake on Sunday, continuing the fall season that serves as good training and preparation for the biggest races of the season next spring.

Defending national champion Washington certainly got a big confidence boost when it defeated some of the best rowing programs in the country at the Head of the Charles on Oct. 24, including Yale, which had defeated UW by 23 seconds two weeks earlier in the Head of the Housatronic in Connecticut.

But UW had just started training when it competed at the Head of the Housatronic. Two additional weeks of training and the addition of coxswain Zach Casler, and Simon Van Dorp, returning from two years away with the Netherlands Olympic team to row in the fifth seat, helped make the difference in Boston.

“It’s one of those bucket list regattas from around the world,” UW men’s rowing coach Michael Callahan said of the Head of the Charles Regatta. “It’s one of the top three regattas besides the Olympics and the world championships. It’s a big one, for sure. It’s the crown jewel of fall racing.”

Washington rallied in the single-file competition, defeating Dartmouth by about two seconds and Yale by about three seconds.

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“It’s a very windy river so coxing becomes very important,” Callahan said. “Zach Casler did an amazing job, both holding the boat together and making really good lines in steering — and that was another way we gained speed. It was a really great weekend for everybody.”

Yale and Washington finished 1-2 in the 2018 and 2019 national championships. The IRA championship was not held in 2020, and Yale — and the other Ivy League powers — did not compete this past spring, when UW won the title.

“We don’t get to race on the East Coast as much as we would like to, and it was a way of looking at our competitors (before the national championships in the spring),” Callahan said. “Any time you race top competitors, and come out on top, it’s important. But it’s just the fall though and we have to be mindful that not everyone is at full strength yet. … But it’s a great prelude and it’s great for confidence.”

UW sent two eights to the Head of the Charles, but almost everyone on the roster will compete in the Head of the Lake.

“It is really important to show the team depth,” Callahan said. “We are trying to see how fast we are from the top boat all the way down to the fifth boat and where everyone stacks up.”

The Head of the Lake will be the first time this fall that the UW women’s eights compete.

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The Husky women, who lost in a three-way tiebreaker while trying to defend their NCAA championship last spring, opened their season Oct. 2 by winning the top pair races at the Burnaby Lake (B.C.) Small Boat Invitational, with competition in just singles and pairs.

“It was awesome to be back together and to be able to race in pairs right away,” UW coach Yaz Farooq said. “It was so cool, and I would do it again.”

Farooq’s team was so close to winning its third national title in four seasons, winning the first two races — the four and the second eight — but finishing third in the varsity eight behind Texas and Stanford.

Because the varsity eight carries more points, it allowed Texas and Stanford to tie Washington for first. The tiebreaker is the varsity eight race, making Texas the champion and Stanford second.

But that is old news, and the quest for another title in the spring has begun.

“It’s really about make the most of the fall to put us in a strong position when we get back after Christmas,” Farooq said. “I think on the water, from a fitness standpoint, and the commitment from everyone on the team to improving, is pretty exciting, honestly.”

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UW was happy to welcome back Valentina Iseppi and Carmelo Pappalardo this fall after they spent last season working with the Italian Olympic team.

The Huskies have also added 35 walk-ons after they went through tryouts, and two from in-state will be awarded scholarships in the spring.

Last season, because of the pandemic, UW had to choose just 10 walk-ons sight unseen.

“So you have all of these people of different levels, and the fall is the period when we unify everyone,” Farooq said. “I think the magic of this team is you have some really skilled rowers coming in, elite people that we have recruited, and then you have some fantastic walk-ons — like Brooke Mooney, Jess Thoennes and Anna Mickelson (who became Olympians) — and they develop their rowing skills working with all the experienced rowers.”